Bashin’ Bluejays, Not Who You’d Think

Who the hell are these guys? This is not the season we were promised from the Toronto Bluejays. This team was supposed to be the AL East cellar dwellers.

Currently the Jays have the fifth best record in the American League. They are sitting third in the AL East, tied with the Detroit Tigers one game back of the Yankees for the Wild Card. So how is a team destined for the bottom managing to keep pace for a potential playoff berth?

The answer is pure, unadulterated power. This current incarnation of the Jays continues to widen its lead in homers (76) over the rest of the league. The Jays currently sit in first place, 16 dingers ahead of the second place Redsox, thanks in large part to Edwin Encarnacion smacking 5 big flies in this weekend’s series versus the Diamondbacks.

The Jays are effectively doing all this without the services of their two Silver Sluggers, Aaron Hill and Adam Lind. Hill who had a break-out season last year, is batting .161 with 5 HRS and 13 RBI after missing two weeks due to injury early in the year. Lind has fared a little better batting .231 with 7 HRs and 23 RBI, but certainly more was hoped for from the DH following his own break-out season. Getting these two guys to regain some of their form of last year could boost the Jays to challenge for the Wild Card in September.

Lyle Overbay has been taking the brunt of the ire of Jays fans even though he’s at least shown signs of coming out his slump, batting .349 with 2 HRs and 7 RBIs in his last 11 games. Vernon Wells (.302) has been resurgent, and is on pace for a career year of 40+ HRs and 120+ RBI, and has just been passed by the red hot Jose Bautista for the team lead in HRs (14) and RBI (38). Bautista has even taken the league lead in HRs. Add to that the surprising offense from Alex Gonzalez and the Jays are sporting a very potent offense.

The offense has been a helpful in keeping the Jays in games and allowing some improbable comebacks. The pitching staff has been mostly solid with a couple guys struggling inflating the staff ERA. Brandon Morrow has had games where his dynamic arm has dazzled, blowing hitters away. Then in other starts he has struggled to find the plate and ended up getting pulled from games early. Dana Eveland had started the year off very strong, but has lost his ability to pitch strikes and allowed a lot of runs in short outings and was recently designated for assignment.

The staff has been anchored by Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero who have provided quality starts giving the bullpen a rest for most of their outings. Brett Cecil has come up and also given some quality innings and will probably stick with the team for the rest of the year.

Last year, it was about this time of year that the Jays imploded and fell out of the AL East and Wild Card races. Aaron Hill and Adam Lind weren’t enough on their own to keep the offense rolling. This year with a strong supporting cast providing more power to line-up, if Hill and Lind get going there could be some Fall baseball in store for Bluejays fans.

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